Participatory Performing Arts Literature Review

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The Participatory Performing Arts Literature Review, conducted by Chrissie Tiller Associates, is one of only a small handful of similar research and policy initiatives. This review looks at the debates, theory, and the practices that comprise what is increasingly referred to as community participatory arts. These art-making practices can comprise of anything 

from social theatre to changing communities, radical theatre, work on the edge of interesting locations, re-enactment, performance as protest, development theatre, majority theatre, people’s theatre, travelling theatre, parade, bonfire, masquerade, picnic, video, installation, website, site specific, radical circus, place making... (Conclusion)

The important thing is that communities are engaged with artists in a process of art-making, and not merely the consumption of art. 

Among other things, this report addresses how literature and information in this field of participatory arts remains “largely accessed, by academics, funders and professional evaluators”, and that in this writing, the voices of artists themselves are rarely ever heard from. They sense a need for more fruitful partnerships in this field, better and richer forms of community building. They imagine institutions like ICASC, gatherings like ACW 2017. They imagine a: 

‘space’, be it an online or off-line presence, a series of seminars, a publication/publications where the debates around this work can be opened up, a ‘place’ where artists, participants and those supporting the work can begin to share ideas and projects alongside looking again at the questions of ethics, principles and authorship that inform the work.” 

Artists need to be equipped with information that can aid them in advocating for the importance of their change-work. Additionally, scholars and policy-makers need to do a better job at connecting with artists who are ‘on the ground’ doing the work, so that the contributions of both endeavors (art-making/research-making) can mutually enrich one another. They conclude the report by reflecting on the centrality participatory arts practices can have for enriching our increasingly isolated and siloed communities: 

It is in the space between the ‘sharing of common meanings’, the ‘offering’ of new ones and ‘making something that did not exist before’ that participatory practice would seem to have an important contribution to make to both the arts and society.

Find the full report here.